Word of the Day Archive
Sunday April 8, 2012
Intended to ward off evil.
Ritualistic behaviour used as an apotropaic to ward off private demons, yes. Except to Raymond there's danger everywhere.
-- Leonore Fleischer, Rain Man
In an older kind of fairy story, the magic of the flowers would be potent but unspecified, vaguely apotropaic.
-- Anthony Burgess, J.G. Ballard, "Introduction," The Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard
Apotropaic came into common usage in the 1880s. It comes from the Greek word apotrópai meaning "averting evil."